Saturday, March 29, 2008


How 'Special' is the Relationship?

Surveys which merely tell us what we know are often portrayed as a waste of time and money but they can sometimes explode fond myths or adjust established verities. The one in The Economist this week does a bit of both, concluding:

Broadly, the differences between the two countries look more striking than the similarities.

1. We tend to be more left-wing than American on political and social issues being more tolerant of abortion('usually'-UK 60%, US 30%), homosexuality('perfectly acceptable'-UK 45%, US 25%) and premarital sex('perfectly acceptable', UK, 75%, US 25%) but(surprisingly) we seem to both agree on the death penalty: 'yes always'- 20%; 'sometimes' 55%; 'no, it's wrong'- 20%.

2. We tend to be more left on matters such as tax-more in favour of reducing tax for the poor(UK, 40%, US, 20%) but both (surprisingly) heavily opposed to taxing 'the better off'(both 3%); and believing the government should support redundant workers(UK, 40%, US 18%). However, we are both more or less agree that 'the profit motive is the best spur to job creation'.

3. We both virtually agree on Iraq: 'withdraw troops now', around 15%; 'withdraw by end 2008' around 20%; 'set a date for withdrawal by 2009-10', around 25% 'stay until country is safe and secure', around 30%)

4. We tend to think free trade is 'generally a good thing': UK, 55% while the US is less keen: 30%. We are marginally less inclined to think 'globalisation a 'bad thing': UK 32%, US, 52%. We seem to agree re 'immigration has helped the domestic economy grow': both around 25% agree- 50% not, 20% neither.

5. Alarmingly large minorities who are unconvinced of the dangers re Climate Change: 'Warming due to humans?' both around 50%; 'warming but not due to humans?' both around 20%, 'not warming at all' UK, 10%, US 20%. Unsurprisingly both countries are opposed to increased petrol taxes, airline fares and 'clean energy taxes'.

This is a very brief summary of a major survey and I have left out some fascinating nuggets. For a fuller coverage see the linked article or log onto:

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